Pre-departure and arrival information

This information is for international students, education providers and agents regarding the return of international students to Sydney and NSW.

Latest information as at 2 December 2021

Information for international students returning to Sydney and NSW

We look forward to welcoming you back to New South Wales (NSW). To help you prepare for your return, please use this checklist to ensure you have all the relevant information and documents required. Plan ahead and please read carefully to ensure you have a safe and smooth journey and transition back to NSW community.

Pause to further easing of border restrictions

On the basis of medical advice provided by the Chief Medical Officer of Australia, Professor Paul Kelly, the National Security Committee has taken the necessary and temporary decision to pause the next step to safely reopen Australia to international skilled and student cohorts, as well as humanitarian, working holiday maker and provisional family visa holders from 1 December until 15 December.

The reopening to travellers from Japan and the Republic of Korea will also be paused until 15 December.

The temporary pause will ensure Australia can gather the information we need to better understand the Omicron variant, including the efficacy of the vaccine, the range of illness, including if it may generate more mild symptoms, and the level of transmission.

For more information, read the Prime Minister's media statement from 29 November 2021.

Study NSW encourages international students to contact their education provider and airline to discuss how these changes may impact their journey to Australia.

Self-isolation requirements for international arrivals into NSW

A new COVID-19 variant of concern has emerged internationally, the Omicron variant.

On November 28 2021 the rules for international passengers changed. Follow the rules for international passengers into NSW.

International students arriving in NSW who are fully vaccinated and have been in any overseas country, must get a COVID-19 PCR (nose and throat) test and self-isolate at their accommodation or place of residence for at least 72 hours.

The self-isolation rules are enforceable under the Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order. Not following the rules is a criminal offence and attracts heavy penalties.

For individuals, the maximum penalty is $11,000, 6 months in prison, or both with a further $5,500 fine for each day the offence continues.

Learn more about self isolation

Step 1 (Mandatory)

Ensure your passport and student visa for Australia are valid

Check that your passport is valid for at least six months prior to your arrival in Australia.

All international students must ensure that their student visa for Australia is valid.

Please visit the Australian Department of Home Affairs website for information. Apply for your visa at least six weeks before your course starts.

Complete as soon as possible.


Step 2 (Mandatory)

Ensure your vaccination certificate meets Australia's requirements

You must be fully vaccinated with a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved or recognised COVID-19 vaccine.

To understand which vaccines are approved or recognised please go to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

Note: Travellers vaccinated outside Australia must present certificates that meet the following criteria:

  • Issued by a national or state/provincial-level authority or an accredited vaccination provider
  • Written in English or accompanied by a certified translation
  • Containing at a minimum:

- name as it appears in the traveller's passport

- either date of birth or passport number

- the vaccine brand name, and

- the date of each dose or the date on which a full course of immunisation was completed.

Paper and digital certificates are equally acceptable.

Complete as soon as possible.


Step 3 (Mandatory)

Submit Australian Travel Declaration (ATD) online

You must submit your Australian Travel Declaration online with a copy of your vaccination certificate before your flight.

You will then receive an email confirmation with details to be shown (either electronically or printed) before boarding your flight and on arrival in Australia.

Complete at least 72 hours before your scheduled departure.


Step 4 (Mandatory)

Obtain a negative COVID-19 PCR test before travelling

Visit your local COVID-19 test centre to receive a test before travelling.

Read more about Australian Government’s advice in providing evidence of your pre-departure COVID-19 PCR Test.

Please also check requirements of your local authority and airline for pre-departure testing, as criteria may vary depending on your departure/transit location. Complete the test within three days of scheduled departure, unless your local authority/airline instructs otherwise.

Note: If you are participating in the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan and you test positive to COVID-19, you must advise your education provider immediately.

Complete the test within three days of scheduled departure.


Step 5 (Mandatory)

Verify vaccination certificate at airport

Before boarding, the airline staff will check:

  • that your vaccination status is valid for travel to Australia and
  • that your COVID-19 test was negative.

Please have a printout of your vaccination certificate ready to prove that you are vaccinated.

The certificate must meet Australian Government requirements (see step 2).

Complete at flight check-in.

Note: If you are participating in the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan, please refer to your airline website for airline specific guidance.


Step 6 (Recommended)

Organise your accommodation in Sydney

It is best to book short-term accommodation before you arrive in Australia and look for longer-term options when you arrive. This allows you time to explore the neighbourhoods and view the properties and can help you choose an option that best suits you. Temporary accommodation includes budget hostels and hotels.

Study NSW has a list of student accommodation options in Sydney and regional NSW.

In compliance with visa condition 8533 on your student visa grant, you must let your education provider know your residential address within seven (7) days of arriving in Australia. If your residential address changes you must let your education provider know within 7 days of the change.

Complete two weeks before departure.


Step 7 (Recommended)

Organise your transport from Sydney Airport

Please contact your education provider for transfer options or view the Sydney Airport website.

Under current self-isolation rules, you must travel directly from the airport to your home or accommodation via private vehicle, taxi or ride-share and all people in the vehicle must wear a mask. You must not take public transport.

You must not travel on a domestic flight.

When travelling in a vehicle:

  • Wear a face mask at all times
  • Sit in the back seat of the vehicle with the windows open
  • Sanitise your hands before getting into the vehicle
  • Do not make physical contact with the driver
  • Avoid unnecessarily touching surfaces
  • Avoid speaking as much as possible
  • Handle your own belongings and luggage
  • Check in with the Service NSW app.

Step 8 (Mandatory)

You must self-isolate at home or other place of accommodation for a minimum of 3 days after arrival

If you meet the requirements of vaccination and pre-departure testing, and you have not been to a country of concern in the last 14 days, you must complete the test within 24 hours of arriving in NSW and self-isolate at your residence or accommodation for a minimum of 3 days.

Further information on self-isolation is available here.

The self-isolation rules are enforceable under the Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order. Not following the rules is a criminal offence and attracts heavy penalties.

For individuals, the maximum penalty is $11,000, 6 months in prison, or both with a further $5,500 fine for each day the offence continues.

Further advice will be provided by NSW Health within 3 days of your arrival into NSW to provide you with an update on your self-isolation requirements. If you have not received a further information within 3 days, please call NSW Health on 1800 943 553.


Step 9 (Mandatory)

Obtain a COVID-19 nose and throat PCR test within 24 hours of arrival

Go to the closest NSW Health free testing clinic to obtain a test. Visit the NSW Health website to find the closest clinic to you. Read the NSW Health requirements for mandatory testing here.

Complete within 24 hours of arriving in NSW.


Step 10 (Mandatory)

Obtain a COVID-19 nose and throat PCR test on day 6 after arrival

Go to the closest NSW Health free testing clinic to obtain a test. Visit the NSW Health website to find the closest clinic to you. Read the NSW Health requirements for mandatory testing here.

You must not go to any high-risk settings (aged care, disability care, healthcare, and correctional facilities) until at least 7 days have passed, and you have received a negative result from your day 6 test.

If you are travelling with a dependent, a test on day 12 after arriving in NSW is strongly recommended for children who are not fully vaccinated.

Complete on day 6 after arrival.


Step 11 (Recommended)

Download the Service NSW app

Download the Service NSW app to your phone. This will allow you to check in at places like supermarkets or restaurants and receive COVID-19 updates while living in NSW.

Download the Service NSW App.

Complete any time before you start moving around in public in NSW.


Step 12 (Recommended)

Add proof of your COVID-19 vaccination to Service NSW app

If you’re not eligible for Medicare, you can still add your COVID-19 digital certificate to the Service NSW App by using the Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI) service through myGov. This means you can quickly check in and show proof of your COVID-19 vaccination wherever it’s required.

Read more about adding your proof of COVID-19 vaccination to Service NSW App here.

Complete any time after arriving in NSW.